Would you consider dog walking at your local shelter?
Want a fun, cheap hobby that involves cuddling dogs?
Want to do something fun in your free time that includes exercise? Trust me, dogwalking didn't appeal to me massively in the beginning (my boyfriend signed us up), but now I couldn't imagine doing anything else on a Sunday morning. Winter, summer, rain or shine, we pop our wellies on, pull our hoods over our eyes and grab the coffee.
We turn up to the animal shelter with our teeny, old car and leash, and get given a dog for the day. We've had all shapes and sizes, from the biggest greyhound (they fold up small) to the tiniest of terriers.
We have a WHALE of a time. We tend to go to a nearby deer park since it's much easier for us if all dogs are kept on the lead. A lot of the dogs we take are strays that have never seen many trees before, never mind the plethora of pheasants, deer, swans, and rabbits.
When the weather's good we love taking the dogs to the beach - there's something about the sea that dogs go freaking MENTAL for. A lot of them seem really confused and excited and dance around, which is adorable to watch.
Seriously, give dog walking a go...
We're currently saving up for a down payment on a house, so this is the perfect hobby for us. It doesn't cost us anything apart from petrol and the occasional pack of dog treats, and it prevents us from shopping or going out for dinner since we always have a puppy in tow.
Saving money is always at the forefront of my mind, and not only does the actual dog walking cost us very little, but even in the afternoon once we've dropped the dog off, we're in no position to spend. Why? Because we're pooped. Sunday afternoons now consist of coffee, lunch and a long nap on the sofa. Occasionally we might stretch to watching a film, or binge watching something on Amazon Prime.
We have decided that once we've bought our house, we'd like to foster shelter dogs because they're much happier in homes than in kennels. When we're ready for our forever dog, we've pretty much decided on a greyhound. I had them when I was a kid, but my boyfriend has really fallen for their calm, docile disposition. They also share our love for a comfy sofa in front of the fire too - it's a match made in heaven!
Obviously, this is also beneficial for the dogs. We're not currently in the position to own our own dog, and it's really opened our eyes to the plight of dogs in shelters. Taking them out of the shelter not only gives them a good walk, but it gives them publicity and hopefully persuades someone to adopt, not shop, something I'm becoming increasing passionate about. If you fancy doing something similar, shoot an email over to your local shelter. We walk for Blue Cross, which didn't actually have a program for walking dogs offsite, so they took a chance and gave us a go. It's been eighteen months and we've only missed a couple of Sundays!
We've made some real friends whilst we've been dog walking. Yeah, the people that work at the shelter are lovely, but the dogs are just awesome. Deputy (in the photo) was in the shelter for months before he finally found a home, and we walked him over a dozen times. We really helped him come out of his shell and conquer some of his many fears (gates, other dogs, people, cars... the list goes on and on). We walked upwards of twenty different dogs, all of whom we've seen gone on to happy homes. We keep in touch with the dogs (well owners) over Facebook, and it's lovely to see the dogs settling in - the look on an ex-racing greyhound's face when it first encounters the joys of a sofa is utter bliss.
I hope I've convinced you to give walking shelter dogs a second thought. Sure, it's rewarding and nice thing to do, but the best reason is all the dog kisses and waggy tails we get. We don't even care about all the dog hair and I've even started sharing my chips with them ;)